Climate and energy, Enea: Italy’s 2030 decarbonisation goal is “never so far away”

Domestic CO2 emissions are estimated to increase by more than 2% this year

Coal consumption up 47% in the first nine months of the year, while renewables are in reverse (-11%)

[23 Dicembre 2022]

The National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea) has updated his analysis of the Italian energy system, documenting the national performance in the first 9 months of this year. The result is that “the goal of reducing emissions has never been so far”.

In this period, CO2 emissions grew by 6%, while at the end of the year the calculation could close at over +2% (more than double the estimate provided by Ispra just a few days ago). Why? Oil consumption grew by 8%, approaching pre-pandemic values. Even more marked was the increase in coal consumption (+47%), which at the end of the year will return not far from the levels of 2018. Natural gas consumption, on the other hand, fell sharply (-3% in the nine months, -8% in the third quarter) and renewable sources, constantly decreasing by approximately 11% in all three first quarters of the year.

The performance of renewables was negatively affected by the significant reduction in hydroelectric (-25% compared to the minimum of the last 15 years), not offset by the 9% increase in wind and solar in the first nine months of the year, nor by the other renewable sources such as geothermal energy (the last geothermal plant inaugurated in our country dates back to 8 years ago).

It is no coincidence that the Enea analysis highlights a sharp worsening of the Ispred energy transition index (-60% in the third quarter): «The sharp drop in the Enea-Ispred index is to be linked in particular to the worsening of the decarbonisation component, which minimum value of the historical series – explains Francesco Gracceva, the coordinator of the analysis – In this scenario, the European objective of reducing emissions by 55% by 2030 can only be achieved if in the next eight years we manage to obtain an average annual reduction of almost 6%», i.e. a rate almost triple what was needed in 2019 to achieve the goal set then in the now old and inadequate Pniec.

Things are no better on the energy security front, with the Enea analysis highlighting “the worsening of the adequacy of the gas system”. As Gracceva points out, in view of the coming winter «the ability of gas infrastructures to cover peak demand requires particular attention: in fact, in the event of a complete zeroing of flows from Russia (which fell below 20% of total imports in the first nine months, but already almost zero in October), it would be very difficult to cover peak demand linked to peaks of intense cold which affect the entire national territory».

From here the immediate need to rely on new regasification terminals, which the Government has however chosen to continue in the long term: at first the purchase of a regasification terminal and the leasing of another was envisaged, while in the end both infrastructures were bought, binding us to their activity for at least another quarter of a century. In this way the energy transition moves further away.

Nevertheless, as documented by Legambienteif the development of renewables – limiting the analysis for simplicity to solar and wind power – had continued with the same average annual increase recorded in the three-year period 2010-2013 (equal to 5.9 GW per year), today Italy would have 50 GW more plants and would thus have been able to reduce natural gas consumption by 20 billion cubic meters a year, cutting gas imports from Russia by 70%.

Instead, not only have precious years been lost, condemning the country to prolong its dependence on gas, but even now renewables have not started running again, due to the complexity of authorizations and the Nimby and Nimto syndromes that hold them back.

In the first 11 months of 2022 the renewable capacity in operation in Italy increased by just 2,668 MW, still very far from the 10,000 MW per year that Italy would be called upon to install in order to respect the European targets for 2030 identified by the RePowerEu initiative.

Climate and energy, Enea: Italy’s 2030 decarbonisation goal is “never so far away”